New York City skyline at night


Spring 2009



Joanne Grumet

Journey of Discovery

The train heads west into the coal-filled hills
of West Virginia.
We stop amid the bogs; the stumps of birch,
white above the water.

This is no ordinary train, no Amtrak,
no Pennsylvania Rail Road;
this is a dream train back to childhood
on the banks of the Ohio.

The conductor is an old woman
with long white braids.
She spreads herself out on a grassy hill,
opening herself to the music of this place.

I climb down the slick black rocks
My body
for where to place my feet,
how to stick to stone.

And then it's up again and
with each step an incantation
against the dangers of the pit:

Almost at the top, one last step,
and I need another "d";
I smile knowingly as it comes to me:
Democracy —

And an eagle emerges from the stone
to rescue me.

I am on the train now heading back east.
Or am I the train?

The porters are busy
taking down the doors
between the cars.
No more first and second class riders,
it is announced.

And I discover I am free
and good
and equal
in all my parts,
all of me.



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